Cobblers goalkeeper Lewis Ward says training has become ‘more feisty’ under Keith Curle with players ‘having little nibbles at each other’.
The added aggression and bite in Northampton’s play since Curle took over from Dean Austin has been apparent, even if that has occasionally spilled over into ill-discipline with Sam Foley and Junior Morias paying the price for their over-exuberance.
We’ve got more feisty in training, players are having little nibbles at each other now and again to try and get everyone fired up.
But, by and large, the Cobblers have benefited from adopting a more hostile, belligerent approach to their football, and it all stems from training.
“I think we’re showing our resilience that we’ve developed,” said goalkeeper Lewis Ward following Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy win at Cambridge. “We’ve got more feisty in training, players are having little nibbles at each other now and again to try and get everyone fired up.
“I think that showed on Tuesday. We didn’t start great but we kept going and kept going. We’ve done it in the league as well and we’ve scored late goals, and we keep going until the end.
“It’s just that resilience the new manager has brought in. We’re starting to believe in ourselves more and everyone has that determination to fight all the way and you saw that against Cambridge.
“We had that goalmouth scramble and then 10 seconds later stuck the ball into the net, and now we’ve got to continue that positivity.”
Ward was Town’s spot-kick hero on Tuesday when he saved two Cambridge penalties, paving the way for his side to prevail 4-2 in the shoot-out and reach round three of the competition.
“I’m pleased,” added Ward. “It needed to be done because obviously we wanted to get through and I felt like I needed to make a couple of saves as I didn’t have the best of nights during the game.
“I’ve faced a lot of penalties in the past and I feel like I’m quite good at them. I try to make myself as big as possible and try to read their bodies and see if they have any little tells.
“We did our homework beforehand with the goalkeeping coach so credit to him because he told me where they were going and we stuck with it and I made two saves, which was nice.
“I probably should have saved all four and I was disappointed not to have kept out the third one. I should have kicked it over the bar but couldn’t get my leg to it.
“But I made the two saves and we got through, which is the main thing.”